Joey P’s NFL Wild Card Picks

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Getting to Wild Card Weekend is one thing. Advancing in the NFL Playoffs is another. I see double-digit wins for the Chiefs, Rams, and Jaguars.

I finished the regular season with a 9-7 record in Week 17. That adds up to a cumulative mark of 157-99 (.613) for the 2017 NFL season. Considering how up-and-down the league was this year, I’ll take it.

Now it’s time to plot the course for the 12 teams lucky enough to still be on the path to Super Bowl LII. Here are my picks. (Note: team seedings are in parentheses.)

Saturday’s Games

(4) Kansas City 31, (5) Tennessee 20: I’m a big believer in playoff experience and the Chiefs have more of it. They also have home-field advantage. Are those definitive reasons to go with KC in this game? Hardly. The Arrowhead Stadium crowd hasn’t been enough to pull the Chiefs through some shocking postseason home losses. Having said that, the Titans were way too inconsistent this year for me to believe they can pull off a win. Kansas City had its own midseason slump, but it righted the ship just in time.

(3) Los Angeles Rams 34, (6) Atlanta 17: When I looked at the Falcons’ first injury report of the week–and saw Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman on it–this game became a rather easy pick. Yeah, the Falcons came through the tough gauntlet that the NFC South Division provided this year. Three of its four teams made the playoffs. But the Rams’ offense is too multi-faceted and way too dynamic to fall short in this game.

Sunday’s Games

(3) Jacksonville 27, (6) Buffalo 10: An image will forever live in the minds of Buffalo faithful. It’s the sight of Cincinnati receiver Tyler Boyd dissecting the Baltimore defense and putting the Bills into the playoffs for the first time since 1999. But, for now, that memory will have to do. Jacksonville’s defense is simply too aggressive and dominating for Tyrod Taylor to get much accomplished offensively in this game.

(4) New Orleans 30, (5) Carolina 26: It’s no surprise that this game is the last of the four on Wild Card Weekend. The finale could well be the best of the bunch. And while these two NFC South Division teams know each other well, I think the Saints have an edge. Why? New Orleans brings defense and a running game to the game. That said, I still think Cam Newton will make enough big plays to keep it close.


About Joe Platania

Veteran beat writer, Joe Platania, is entering his 39th year in Baltimore media. He covers sports with insight, humor, and prescient eye. A former longtime member in good standing of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and the Pro Football Writers of America, Platania manned the CFL Stallions beat for The Avenue Newspaper Group of Essex (1994 and ’95) and the Ravens beat since the team’s inception — one of only three local writers to do so — for PressBox, The Avenue, and other local publications and radio stations. A sought-after contributor and host on talk radio and TV, he often appears on “Inside PressBox” (10:30 a.m. Sundays) and he can be heard at 10 a.m. Saturdays on the “Purple Pride Report,” WQLL-AM (1370). He has also appeared on WMAR-TV’s “Good Morning Maryland” (2009), Comcast SportsNet’s “Washington Post Live” (2004-06), and WJZ-TV’s “Football Talk” postgame show — with legend Marty Bass (2002-04). Platania is the only sports journalist in Maryland history to have been a finalist for both the annual Sportscaster of the Year award (1998, which he won) and Sportswriter of the Year (2010). He is also a four-time Maryland-Delaware-District of Columbia Press Association award winner. Platania is a graduate of St. Joseph’s (Cockeysville), Calvert Hall College High School, and Towson University, where he earned a degree in Mass Communications. He lives in Cockeysville, MD.

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